Sunshine’s Trying To Kill Me

I’ve been having strange dreams lately. I don’t usually dream much, but when I do they tend to be whimsical Willy Wonka type dreams. The past few weeks or so my dreams have been a random assortment of misadventures that usually end the same way: with one of my co-workers trying to kill me.

The co-worker in question is someone I affectionately refer to as Sunshine. Sunshine is not what you would call a “people person”. He’s perpetually grumpy and tends to take a perverse pleasure in other people’s misfortune. One of the few times I’ve ever seen him smile is when a co-worker cut their hand and had to leave early to get stitches. I get along with him fine, but he is not well generally well liked at the office.

Sunshine has crept into three of my dreams in the past two weeks. In the first dream I was at work minding my own business, when a masked gunman started opening fire. Being the selfless hero that I am, I shuttled my weaker co-workers to safety then prepared to take down the assailant. As I did this, I noticed the gunman none other than Sunshine. Sunshine started taking aim at me. He obviously was not impressed with my heroism. I dodged his bullets Matrix-Style bobbing and weaving until I ultimately got close enough to disarm him.

Good guy 1, Sunshine 0

In the next dream, I did not fare as well. It starts off with me asleep in my bed at home.  I am awakened by a loud noise. I go to check on the noise and notice my picture frame has fallen off the wall. I pick the frame up, place it on my kitchen table, and hop back in bed. Suddenly, I feel someone’s hot breath cascading over my face. I look up and see sunshine in hovering over me in his trademarked black hoodie. He starts choking the life out of me until I manage to kick him away. We then engage in a knock down, drag out Kill Bill-esque ninja battle. Out of nowhere, swords appear and we swashbuckle like there’s tomorrow. Unfortunately, the month of karate lessons I took when I was 8 were no match for Sunshine’s cunning mastery of swords. He eventually knocks the sword from my hand and goes for my heart. Before he pierces my flesh, I wake up.

Good Guy 1, Sunshine 1

The  last battle was decidedly uneventful. In fact, it wasn’t even really a fight. I am standing on the balcony of my apartment entertaining friends from out of town. There is a knock on the door. A friend opens the door. At this point, Sunshine headbutts punches my friend in the face and proceeds to torpedo towards me head first. In retrospect, I had enough time to move out the way. In the moment I was so stunned that I froze and Sunshine hits me in the stomach with the crown of his head. He follows that up with a WWE-style clothes line and I go tumbling over the balcony.

Sunshine 2, Good Guy 1

I’m not exactly sure what this all means. I’m almost certain Sunshine isn’t plotting to kill me in real life, but I’ve been wrong about that sort of thing before. I will say Sunshine was in an unusually good mood the other day. It was the kind of good mood that was so out of character for him, that it made me a little suspicious.

The more I think about it, I may be in trouble.

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Anticipation…Is Making Me Wait

There hasn’t been much activity here on the Gnu Glasses frontier as of late. It’s been almost three weeks since my last post. I’d like to say this is because I’ve been too busy going on some great adventures. Alas, this is not the case.

I’ve spent the last three weeks trying to close the chapter on the 18 month journey that is graduate school. For the most part it’s been a great experience. I’ve met some nice people, made new contacts, and honed my ability to give a kick ass presentation. Unfortunately, the key to finishing my degree was a research paper.

In theory, I should love writing research papers. I have a journalism degree. I write a blog and occasionally write articles for a local newspaper. While I enjoy doing all those things, research papers are a different animal.

My biggest gripe with writing research papers is that they tend to be overly academic and boring. The only is saving grace is that I get to break out my fancy SAT vocabulary. I can use words like obsequious, bailiwick and heretofore without feeling like a snob. Aside from that, it’s a pretty tedious chore.

When I sit down to write one of these blogs, I’m usually in a good mood and excited. The words usually flow out of me. The past three weeks have been spent staring at computer trying to find the motivation to write a 50 page paper on motivation.

This isn’t to say I’ve  been glued to my computer the entire time. It’s amazing how many ways you can find to distract yourself from getting work done. People I haven’t talked to in months have been blowing up my phone recently. I’ve been watching the Olympics regularly and trying to figure out the allure of volleyball as a sport. I’ll stick to tennis, thank you very much.

As the deadline approached, I really buckled down. I locked myself in my apartment and tried to put the finishing touches on my paper. Monday morning, I started to stress out. Usually, when I stress out I head to fridge for some junk food. Unfortunately my apartment was devoid of any snack, so I was stuck eating entire bags of pre-washed salad mix and shoveling tiny cartons of Dannon light n’ fit yogurt down my throat. There are few things in life more depressing than a grown man binging on salad and yogurt to calm his nerves.

After a mini meltdown, I turned in my paper 30 minutes before the deadline. It wasn’t as good as I wanted it, but hopefully it’s good enough to get me by. According to my professor, he should have all the papers graded by next Monday. Until then, all I can do is wait.

D-Money and the Gnu Glass Adventure

As you can probably tell from the name of this blog, I am a huge fan of glasses-eyeglasses in particular. Needless to say, when I was approached about helping a friend find a new pair I was stoked. My good friend D-Money had been sporting the same eyeglasses since high school and was looking to spice things up a bit. Being the eyeglass guru I am,  I happily accepted the challenge. Hummus tagged along as well to lend moral support.

Before we headed off on our Gnu adventure we decided to dine at one of my favorite childhood eateries: Church’s Chicken. Neither D-Money nor Hummus had ever been there and I thought it was time for them to cross it off their bucket list.

I don’t frequent Church’s Chicken much these days mainly because I try to avoid fried foods. It also doesn’t help that the nearest location is about fifteen miles away. As I mentioned a while back, you won’t find a Church’s in the suburbs. They usually exist on streets with pot holes and abandoned houses. The last time I was there, I saw a car on fire in the parking lot. If you don’t mind the scenery, Church’s is a great place to pick up a good meal at a reasonable price. You can get about 30 pieces of chicken for approximately a nickel.

Luckily, there were no vehicles engulfed in flames on this day. I asked D-Money and Hummus if they wanted to dine-in or hit the drive-thru. They decided to skip the indoor ambiance in favor of the drive-thru.  They also left the ordering to me. Over the loud speaker, the cashier took my order and D-Money wondered why  she was yelling at me. I explained to him that while it might have seemed like the young lady was a bit grumpy, that was just the was just the nature of her voice. It was very Samuel L. Jackson-esque.

We drove back to my apartment to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The chicken was just as I had remembered: crisp, juicy, with just right amount of grease. D-Money was pleased. Hummus, the pickiest eater of the bunch, eschewed the chicken in favor of the fried okra and honey butter biscuits. He may have been the first vegetarian to eat at Church’s.

After we finished dinner we moved on to dessert: the glasses. We went to the mall and headed to Lens Crafters. Here’s a fun fact: despite being freakishly anti-social, Hummus knows everyone. The odds of us going out and not seeing someone he knows are about the same as the odds of running into Justin Bieber at Wal-Mart or a meth lab. Less than five minutes into our search for new glasses, Hummus had found someone from his past.

As Hummus chatted it up with his old friend, D-Money and I went about the task at hand. He tried on about ten different frames while I took pictures. I also tried on a few pairs for myself and found my soul frames. They were a little too expensive, so I left them in the store. On a  related note, I  am now accepting donations for the Gnu Glasses New Glasses Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing underpaid bloggers with vanity non-prescriptions frames.

After leaving the LC (that’s what the cool kids call Lens Crafters), we searched around a few other spots in search of potential spectacles but didn’t have much luck. Here’s another fun fact: If you want to pick up frames from places like Sears or JC Penney you might want to get there before noon because apparently they don’t stay open very late. I had a very terse exchange with an associate at Sears who felt compelled to give me attitude about the fact that optical department was closed. I don’t mind taking a little guff from the folk’s at Church’s, but I’ll be damned if I take shit from someone who works at Sears.

We capped off the night by looking at frames on the internet. When I bought my most recent set of frames, I found them on a site called Coastal.com. D-Money and I browsed around the site and eventually found three pair of potential keepers. We printed them off to get feedback from the other members of the Gnu Crew.

As of this posting, the winning pair had not yet been chosen. However, once the winner is selected you’ll be the first to know.

One Big Happy Family

The worst part of living in Indianapolis is that most of my family lives hundreds of miles away. The best part of living in Indianapolis is that most of my family lives hundreds of miles away. After four years of avoiding the inevitable, the two worlds collide.

For the record, I get along with 99% of my family. The lone exception is one angry young man who once called me a loser with no future. Those would have been fighting words had they not come from someone who needed seven cracks at passing his driving exam. In his defense, they kept changing the questions which made it more difficult.

Tonight, I get the pleasure of hosting about a dozen family members from various parts of the country as they make a pitstop on a caravan to North Carolina. Truthfully, family functions make me cranky. I’ve noticed whenever more than four of us get together, nerves get frayed and feelings get hurt. Luckily, the hurt feelings usually aren’t mine since I’ve developed a nice char-grilled crust over my heart to avoid such outcomes.

I’ve spent the last three days cleaning to get ready for this little shindig and my apartment is immaculate. House cleaning is not something I enjoy and, as a result, it usually takes longer than it should. I wouldn’t have bothered except the one of the easiest way to get under my skin is to make a critical comment about the way I take care of my house. I once seriously contemplated stabbing my best friend for making a snarky comment about the amount of lint in my dryer.

On the bright side, the kitchen basically cleaned itself. I even made my bed for the first time in about a month. All I have to do now is figure out what to cook and decide on a pre-game beverage to calm my nerves.

Wish me luck.

Are You Mad at Me?

It’s summer time, which means one of my favorite shows is back on the air. Long time readers know I am a huge fan of the show “Louie “on FX. I was catching up on new episodes and watching a few old ones and realized we have something in common: confrontation issues.

Though I have my moments, I try to avoid arguments and awkward conversations at all costs. However, sometimes other people won’t let you off that easy and try to force the issue. Louie and I both seem to have the same defense mechanism: blank stares and silence.

About a week ago I found myself having to employ this tactic with an acquaintance. In my mind we’ve never been close. However, this person disagreed and was under the impression that we were BFFs, even though we never hang out except in large group settings where I have no control of the guest list. About a month ago when I was purging my Facebook friend list, this person did not survive the cut. They hadn’t noticed until they decided they wanted to play me in a game of Words with Friends.

When I was confronted about the de-friending, I was caught off guard. Even though we’re not close, it’s hard to tell someone face to face that you eliminated them from your life because they’re annoying, clingy, and think NPR is a hip hop station.

Instead I channeled my inner Louie, stared blankly and feigned ignorance. After doing this for about 5 days in a row, I think we understand each other. It probably isn’t the best conflict resolution strategy in the world but it gets the job done.

I think Louie would be proud.

Roads with Foodies: Kansas City

“What’s in Kansas City?”

Before heading on vacation, when I told people I was heading to Kansas City, the general question was “why”.

My answer was simple: Food.

There are few things in life that make happier than a good meal. Kansas City is known for having great food so I thought i would check it out. I also figured it would be a great opportunity to check out a major American city. I’m always on the lookout for a new town to call home and I read somewhere that Kansas city has one of the best downtowns in America. The list  also included Indianapolis, which made me skeptical. I figured I would check it out myself.

For this adventure, I decided to bring along my good friend Dr. F. The best part about taking a road with the Doc is that I get to pick his brain about medical ailments and terms. I’ve never had a desire to study medicine and I’m not a big fan of sick people, but I ‘m always game as to learn about the the strange and random things that can go wrong. I learned about lots of things on the 3 hour trip to KC, including an affliction called rectal prolapse (Google image it at your own discretion).

After we made it to KC, we stopped in at a place called Arthur Bryant’s, a renowned BBQ joint. Bryant’s is a simple place that sells one of the best pulled pork “sandwiches” I’ve ever had. It’s a little hard to call it a true sandwich when you get a pound of pork piled on top of two slices of white bread. I didn’t complain though. I simply picked up a fork and went to town. I was tempted to order their ribs as well because they looked so good, but decided against it.

One word of advice: be very clear about what you want when you get to the order window. Some members of the wait staff are a little sassy and don’t believe the customer is always right. While I had no trouble, the gentleman in front of me had a hell of a time getting an extra side of baked beans.

After eating, Dr. F and I went to find out whether downtown KC was all it was alleged to be. All told, it was okay but not necessarily a top 10 destination. The layout was nice and the people seemed friendly, though we did run into one gentleman who looked a little sketchy. He was either an axe murderer or suffering from the extreme summer heat.

Either way, we were lucky to escape with our lives.

What I learned on Summer Vacation…

I spent most of last week on vacation recovering from the disappointment of the Tough Mudder’s cancellation. I took refuge in a small Missouri town most people have never heard of. I intended to write a few blogs while there, but came to the conclusion working vacations are not real vacations. To “celebrate” my return, I’ve decided to sum up what I learned.

I Can’t Wait to be an Old Man

I like to  think of myself as an old soul and some of my vacation activities proved it. Despite not having any real plans, I usually woke up before the sun. I would then check the morning news, play a game of Scrabble, and then start in on a crossword puzzle. It was delightful. The only thing missing was a rocking chair and the opportunity to tell some nosy neighbor kids to “Get off my lawn” Clint Eastwood style.

Some Fears Die Hard

About 10 years ago, I went on a canoeing trip and had a near-death experience. Long story short…the tide was strong, the canoe tipped over, and my life jacket was stolen by an evil tree branch. Making matters worse, I wasn’t a very good swimmer at the time. Did I mention this happened twice in one month?

Naturally, when the topic of canoeing was brought up I declined, right?

Not exactly.

I decided enough time had passed since the incidents in question and it was time to get back on the proverbial horse. I’d improved my swimming skills since then and should be fine. The good news is the canoe never tipped and I didn’t drown. The bad news is I spent the entire trip irritable, cranky and with my ass cheeks clenched so tight that had there been a piece of coal lodged between them, I probably could have made a diamond.

It’s still a work in progress.

Being Home Stinks

I was a little bummed out when I made it home because it meant my vacation was over and that I wasn’t going to be able to see one of my favorite people again for a few months. As I got out of my car, I thought to myself:

This stinks.

As I opened the door to my apartment, the same thought crossed my mind, but for different reasons. It seems that in my haste to hit the highway, I left a pound of shrimp on my kitchen counter. I had been gone for six days. The apartment smelled like a combination of dead hookers sprinkled with dirty gym socks. Home sweet home?

Not so much.

Heartless

Dear Mother Nature:

Even though we’ve both seen this coming for a while, that doesn’t make this any easier. After 27 years together, I think it’s time we parted ways. The last decade has been pretty rough on our relationship. We stayed together for the kids, but they’re all grown now and there’s really no use pretending any more.

You might be wondering what brought this on. Well…as you know I was planning on competing in a Tough Mudder competition Sunday. I trained hard and was ready to show the world what I was made of. I left work early Saturday, ate a nice healthy dinner, and went to bed at 8 o’clock because I was so excited. And this is what I woke up to.

The Tough Mudder course was “magically” flooded with three feet of water from an unexpected thunderstorm and the race had to be cancelled. You can play innocent, but I know it was you. You just can’t stand to see me happy, can you? Every time I’ve got a good thing going you come and ruin it.  Don’t think I don’t remember the last time you were mad at me.

August of 2005, remember that? You thought I was taking advantage you. I was a litterbug and too lazy to recycle. Boom. You hit my hometown with a million feet of water and I had to find a new place to live. I headed north to Indiana (it never floods there, right?) and tried to start fresh. You followed me to the Hoosier state and we tried to patch things up. I stopped littering. I bought environmentally safe products whenever I could. I still don’t recycle but I do use those stupid reusable grocery bags. I thought it was a good compromise. Apparently not.

This is the last straw. I can’t play these games any more. You’re shady, dishonest and destroy shit whenever don’t get what you want. Not cool. I need someone more stable in my life. I think I’ve found that person.

Surprised? Me too. I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly but it did. The Captain’s got everything you have: earth, fire, wind, and water. He also has something you’ve proven time and again to lack: Heart.

Costume Time?

2 more days.

I’ve been getting daily updates from the Tough Mudder folks offering last minute training tips. Yesterday’s tip: Take ice cold showers from now until event day to prepare for the arctic enema.

The arctic enema requires one to jump into an ice cold bath and swim out. I hadn’t taken a cold shower since middle school (for completely different reasons) until yesterday. It wasn’t fun.

I’ve also been pondering whether I should enter one of the costume contests being held at the event. I’m a big fan of dressing up,I just don’t know if I want to put in the effort to come up with a great costume this late in the game. There are a few different categories. Just for fun, I’ve been thinking of what I would wear if I were to enter.

Best/Worst Costume

Like most normal people, I own a full-sized penguin outfit. It’s practical and keeps me warm on cold winter nights. I have been known to wear it outside the house on occasion and it usually turns heads. I’ve been thinking I could rock the penguin outfit to the Mudder. To complete the ensemble, I was thinking of painting my face military style with streaks of blood dripping from the corners of my mouth. I would also sport false platinum teeth. The only problem with the costume is practicality. The penguin suit keeps warm in the winter, but the last thing I need on a 80 degree summer day while running 13 miles is warmth.

Least Clothing

I’m not a big fan of public nudity…well, at least not my own. If other people want to flaunt  what they’ve got then by all means go for it. I have been taking baby steps, though. Just last summer I found myself laying out by the pool shirtless for the first time in probably a decade.  I think the next logical step in my progression would be to compete for this prize. In order to win it, I was thinking of flaunting one of by best assets and buying a pair of leather chaps. I would complete the ensemble by going shirtless and wearing a strategically placed loin cloth. The only drawback is the Mudder requires climbing over walls, which means the fine folks running behind would get a full view all my tender vittles. I don’t think Indiana is ready for that yet.

Most likely to have been in the Village People

I think the least clothing costume might work in this category, but in the interest of variety I could probably wrangle up a good cowboy outfit. I’ve always wanted a cowboy hat and I’m  a huge fan of flannel. Running around in boots might get a little uncomfortable, but it might be worth the risk. As an added bonus, I could still wear those chaps.

What do you think kids?